Australian star Josh Brookes will be a much stronger force in this year's MCE British Superbike Championship, according to Tyco Suzuki team boss Philip Neill.
Brookes' season was marred by a series of crashes that knocked his confidence last year, but Neill expects the 2010 runner-up to up the ante on the GSX-R1000 superbike in 2012.
“The key this year is that Josh is back on the same bike with essentially the same team and that is a benefit to a rider,” said Neill. “I think we'll see a real improvement out of Josh Brookes this year and he wasn't far away from the front last year, so with an improvement this time Josh will certainly be a force.
“Josh was fairly settled after a short space of time at the start of last year and we had tried really hard to provide him with the right environment and give him all the pre-season testing he needed.
“After pre-season testing we were feeling really confident and in terms of speed and lap times Josh was right up there in the first few races. Unfortunately he had a couple of crashes in those first few rounds, which really knocked his confidence and set him back in a really difficult position in the championship.
“He was struggling to find reasons for his crashes and that set him back to square one and he had to rebuild his confidence right through the rest of the year before he started to come good again,” added Neill.
“We were making little changes to the bike along the way too and like every season sometimes you take a few steps forward and then a few steps backwards because it's not possible to move forward all the time.
“When he showed his form in the Shootout we were at the stage where Josh had got what he wanted from the bike and his confidence was higher; it's just a pity that it was the end of the season rather than the start of the season.”
Neill has pinpointed consistency in the early part of the campaign as key to mounting a serious assault on the BSB title.
“The BSB championship now is very different to the championship we have competed in during other years – it's very much a championship of two halves. We need to be a little bit more settled during the first two-thirds of the season and put Josh into the position that he needs to be in,” he said.
“You can't win the championship in the first two-thirds of the year but obviously you could lose it by failing to make the Shootout.”